Weave a Real Peace (W.A.R.P.) is an organization devoted to bringing together people who love indigenous textiles, are devoted to the artisans who create them, and who work in various ways to create economic opportunities to help the traditions survive. I just came back from the organization’s annual conference, “Blending Tradition and Textiles.” It was a wonderful agglomeration of old friends, new friends, gorgeous textiles, inspiring stories, and raucous late-night “study sessions.”
Crafting a Book
Thrums Books had a launch party for our newest title, Traditional Weavers of Guatemala: Their Stories, Their Lives, one afternoon, with a small number of copies flown in for the occasion, the remainder afloat somewhere on a boat in the Pacific headed to the Port of San Diego for delivery late this summer, I hope. The founder of W.A.R.P. is, not coincidentally, Deborah Chandler, who is also co-author of this book. You’ll be hearing more from her and her co-author, Teresa Cordón, about the work that went into making Traditional Weavers and sneak peeks of the book itself—stay tuned.
Deborah, Tere, and I also gave a presentation during one of the sessions, “Preserving Traditions and People Who Live Them.” Deborah and Tere talked about their important work with the weavers of Guatemala; my part of it was to give a short rundown on Thrums Books and how it came to be. For me, it has been just one of those things that happen, one step at a time, and not until I had to articulate it for a room full of people did I give much thought to the bigger picture.
Crafting a Company
What I learned was that I didn’t start out to create a publishing company; I just did one project at a time, working mostly pro bono in the beginning. Weaving in the Peruvian Highlands: Dreaming patterns Weaving Memories was intended to help jump-start a publishing program for the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Cusco, Peru, that would enable them to publish more books documenting their heritage. Happily, it has succeeded, going through four printings so far and a Spanish-language edition. Textile Traditions of Chinchero: A Living Heritage and Weaving Lives: Traditional Textiles of Cusco, for which I provided design services and some English language editing (both are bilingual) have been the offspring of that book, and I’m sure there will be more heritage books to come.
Guatemalan Woven Wealth was another pro bono job done to benefit Friendship Bridge, an organization that provides microloans for women in Guatemala. It’s a small book, really a catalog of beautiful textiles with cultural information and photos added for depth. A Textile Guide to the Highlands of Chiapas is a revision of a book that had been published in San Cristóbal, Chiapas, but had not had exposure in the U.S. When I agreed to publish author Chip Morris’s next book, Maya Threads: A Woven History of Chiapas, things were starting to get serious.
In between were the books Faces of Tradition: Weaving Elders of the Andes, and Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folk Tales and Stories of Inca Life. Pretty serious indeed. Besides the aforementioned Traditional Weavers of Guatemala, three other books are under contract and at least two more in the early planning stage.
Making a Difference
People ask me why. The flippant answer is that it gives me a chance to go on cool trips; the thoughtful answer is that it’s mission work: these books really do make a difference for the people and for the textile traditions they represent and the book buyers who share the interest. Plus I love to make books, more than any kind of work I can think of. That’s it.
One thought on “Textile Traditions Old and New”
My daughter has a foster son who is from a weaving family in the mountains of Guatemala. He was apprehended at the Mexican border when he was 16. Luckily, he was put in a program for unaccompanied minors. He is now working, going to high school and learning both English and Spanish. He has a green card. He has frequent family contact.
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